It’s the fair dinkum fight we had to have and it’s between the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison and the country’s greatest new age entrepreneur Michael Cannon-Brookes. And the battleground is the exciting and compelling world of, wait for it — renewable energy!
No, no, wait a minute, I was wearing my old, leftie academic hat, when I used to think I knew more than most because I worked at a university and it was only a matter of telling everyone what they needed to know.
Experience and putting myself out there for over 30 years in national newspapers and on TV and radio has taught me to tread warily on subjects where proof can’t be a given, even if the ABC, Fairfax and all caring, more leftish people know it’s true.
There have been plenty of examples for me to at least doubt a prevailing belief but the Y2K threat, where we were forced to spend a lot of money to take protection from a threat that didn’t materialise, increased my suspicion about some facts of life.
In the reign of Kevin Rudd (Mk I) I wrote a book called The Carbon Crunch and it was poised to do really well, given the speeches I got booked for, but it had a short life because Kevie backed down on his commitment to a green future and soon was shown the revolving door designed for PMs in Canberra.
We actually have seven living ex-PMs alive and kicking, which has to be close to a record, and it could be eight by May next year!
My stance in the book was even though the science on climate change is not 100% proved, given nearly three-quarters of Aussies believe in it and similar numbers around the world would hold a similar view, then manufacturers would be mad to ignore the issue.
At the time of writing, Toyota has the Prius, Volvo was making trucks that were green-oriented and others were investing to leverage off what consumers were thinking.
Two local surveys from psychology.org.au and the Climate Institute have shown that about 74% of us have given the climate change argument the benefit of the doubt or are strong believers.
However, a survey by Essential Research found one in five of us think that climate change is a hoax! Interestingly, the inquiry found 9% strongly believe it’s BS, 12% somewhat believe it is, while another 11% were not sure. Therefore the climate change advocates haven’t done their job as well as they should, if they’re unquestionably right. My counting says 32% are not card-carrying climate change believers and this sets the scene for the climate clash of the century.
We all know the PM and the digital drama fought out on Twitter and other social media hangouts was started when Scott Morrison talked about promising to reduce power bills and forcing energy companies to use what he called "more fair dinkum, reliable energy power".
As Fairfax’s Jenny Noyes points out in the SMH today, the PM took to video telling us that “renewables are great, but we're also needing the reliable power when the sun isn't shining and the wind isn't blowing. That's what keeps the lights on.”
Now that got Mike really angry and it made this entrepreneur, who has always suffered from the unique ‘malady’ of being the smartest guy in the room since his school days, so he returned fire by taking steps to set up a business called “fair dinkum power”!
He even registered the business name “Fair Dinkum Power” and came up with a logo, which has to be one of the best examples ever of how smart guys don’t just get angry, they get even by coming up with a money-making opportunity.
This was his actual Tweet-comeback that shows his PM-created anger:
He even asked for help with the logo and asked for voters to pass judgment on a number of creations, which was an excellent example of how individuals can have their say in a social media world. This has a lot of impact when you have lots of followers.
In case you don’t know Mike, he and his mate Scott Farquhar stared Atlassian, which is a tech company that is listed on the Nasdaq exchange. They’re worth about $5 billion each, though they could have lost nearly a billion in the recent stock sell off in the US over October!
I guess it shows what Mike is like when the PM’s power ‘faux pas’ gets him more vocally angry than losing a cool billion on an overdue market correction.
It’s interesting that Mike has turned his anger into a money-making opportunity but, more importantly, if he actually does more than just come up with a great business name and logo and creates a business model, it will need a marketing strategy to succeed.
And that’s when the community could get some decent communication about just how reliable renewables can be. Those who are true believers can’t treat as a matter of 24 carat gold fact that renewables can replace coal-fired power stations.
And they have to demonstrate that alt-power can be cheaper, or at least as cheap, or else you’re asking lower income Australians to pay a proportionately higher price to power up their TVs, heater and air conditioning units.
The PM and I think most of us would love to jump on board the renewables bandwagon because a cleaner world just makes more healthy sense, but some can’t sign up for an expensive better future without being accountable to lower income Aussies, voters, the right-wing of their party and radio shock jocks.
It would be easier for PMs, not from left, if the smartest guys in the rooms out there helped the world understand why they are right and how change can be affected, without gambling with lower income people’s limited resources.
Maybe that’s what Fair Dinkum Power as a business could be. It could be an honest-broker PR firm paid by the renewable energy companies to prove to the world, or at least Australians, that cities can be powered by sun, wind, bio-fuel and even waves, without delivering blackouts and businesses enduring power-failure losses.
Honesty in public relations — now that’s a nice, new age thought. I might try and register it!